Date of Award

Summer 2005

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Block, Ed.

Second Advisor

Duffy, Ed.

Third Advisor

Jeffers, Tom


As both a student and an admirer of the poetry of the nineteenth century, I find it disappointing and worrisome that poetry has, for all intents and purposes, disappeared from the core of the undergraduate experience and from the intellectual activity of academics. Propelled by the question "What happened to the influence of poetry?" this dissertation explores the contested status of language, knowledge, and poetry in the late nineteenth century. In the nineteenth century, cultural authority was less an accepted bond than a fractious question. Any seat of knowledge that would contend for epistemological authority needed to demonstrate that it could produce legitimate avenues to knowledge. Consistent within every grammar of the Victorian period is the recognition that language dictates how we know what we know, and this requires exploring the role of discourse in the construction of these grammars. Using Wittgenstein's and Kant's definition of grammars as the structures and systems that govern how we do what we do, I argue that science provides the primary grammar for knowing during the late-nineteenth century. This project seeks to explore the causes of the shift of intellectual authority away from poetry to science, the consequences for this shift, and seeks to reestablish an authoritative grammar for poetry, one which relies heavily on John Henry Newman's articulation of the faculty of the illative sense. If grammars not only filter perception, but constitute our reality or, as Nietzsche asserts, "exact a mode of life," then the consequences of rejecting any grammar as authoritative are not merely theoretical, but can change the ways we live.



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